After Paris

Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Muslims must unify to deter Islam from extremism

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 07: Activist and author Ayaan Hirsi Ali speaks at the National Press Club, April 7, 2015 in Washington, DC. Ali spoke about ISIS, Islam and the West. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

“I always say, ‘I wish I was wrong’,” said Ayaan Hirsi Ali at the start of her recent conversation with CNN. In the wake of last week’s attacks on Paris, the author and vocal critic of Islam is adding her voice to the conversation about the best ways to end the terror inflicted by extremist beliefs and behaviors. Raised as a devout Muslim in Somalia, Hirsi Ali began pushing back against the religion when a “narrative of jihad” became the status quo in her region. Speaking with Don Lemon, she said that if she had continued practicing Islam within that mindset, she would’ve been likely to act out a violent mission like the 19 men who conducted the 9/11 attacks on the United States. Only some interpretations of the religion lead to jihan, but doctrine and theology of the religion is “problematic” by nature, Hirsi Ali said, adding that change needs to start within the Islamic communities to save the religion from extremists. “Muslims need to unify about what should change within Islam,” she said.

“There are millions of peaceful Muslims, people that want to live in peace … but Islam as a doctrine, as a theology and especially in its political aspects, it is used to wage war. It’s used as a tool of intolerance against its women, to its gays, to its others,” Hirsi Ali said. It is of course possible to turn Islam into a religion of peace, but it’s not going to happen automatically.”

Women in the World spoke with Hirsi Ali earlier this year and she told us, “You can’t bomb bad ideas out of people’s heads. You can bomb the outfit, the organization in Iraq and Syria … But that doesn’t eliminate Islamic extremism in all its forms.”

“I’m not saying, ‘don’t worship Allah,’” she added. “I’m just saying, don’t take the Quran and use it like the Massachusetts manual for driving.”

Watch her interview on CNN and read our interview here.

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